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entirely silence us, or at least impair that freedom and confidence with which we might otherwise have exhorted and rebuked.
Or had we so much composure and assurance, as to put on all the forms of innocence and virtue, could we expect regard, when our actions contradicted our discourses, or hope they should reverence instructions, which their teachers themselves appear to despise? It is in the general true, that there is a silent, but powerful oratory in example, beyond the force of the most elegant and expressive words; and the example of parents has often a peculiar weight with their children*; which seems to be alluded to in that exhortation of St. Paul, Be ye followers (or imitators) of God, as dear childrent. So that on the whole, as a very celebrated writer well expresses it‡, "To give children good instruction, and a bad example, is but beckoning to them with the head to shew them the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand, and lead them in the way to hell." We should therefore most heartily concur in David's resolution, as ever we hope our families should be religious and happy: I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way; I will walk within my house with a perfect heart§.
5. Cheerfully accept of all proper assistances in the education of your children, if you desire it may succeed well.
It will be your wisdom to accept of the assistance, which may be offered, either from books or friends.
Books may in this respect be very useful to you: the book of God above all; both to furnish you with materials for this great work, and instruct you in the manner of performing it. Other writings may be subservient to this purpose. Wise and pious treatises on the subject of education, may be read with great pleasure and advantage; and you may receive singular assistance from those catechisms, and prayers, and songs for children, with which most of your families are now furnished, through the condescension of one valuable friend in writing them, and the generosity of another in bestowing them upon us. I hope you will express your thankfulness to both, by a diligent care to use them; and I persuade myself, that you and yours may abundantly find your account in them; for while the language is so plain and easy, that even an infant may un
-Velocius & citius nos
Corrumpunt vitiorum Exempla domestica, magnis
Cum subeunt animos Auctoribus.-Juv. Sat. xiv. v. 31—33.
Dr. Isaac Watts.
Eph. v. 1. Tillotson, vol. 1. p. 531, Psal. ci. 2.
derstand it, you will often find, not only a strength and sublimity in the sentiments, proving to persons of advanced capacities. that milk, by which strong men may be entertained and nourished.
propriety, but a which may be imThere is much of
I add, that in this important work, you should gladly embrace the assistance of pious and prudent friends. I can by no means approve that Lacedemonian law, which gave every citizen a power of correcting his neighbour's children, and made it infamous for the parent to complain of it: Yet we must all allow, that considering the great importance of education, a concern for the happiness of families and the public will require a mutual watchfulness over each other in this respect; nor is there any imaginable reason to exclude this from the number of those heads, on which we are to Admonish one another*, and to Consider each other, to provoke unto good workst.
Nothing seems more evident than this; and one would suppose, that persons who are acquainted with human nature, should suspect, that self-love might work under this form, and that they might be a little blinded by a partial affection to their offspring. Such a reflection might engage them at least patiently, or rather thankfully, to hear the sentiments, and receive the admonitions of their friends on this head But instead of this, there is in many people a kind of parental pride, if I may be allowed the expression, which seldom fails to exert itself on such an occasion. They are so confident in their own way, and do so magisterially despise the opinion of others, that one would almost imagine, they took it for granted, that with every child, nature has given to the parent, a certain stock of infallible wisdom for the management of it; or that, if they thought otherwise, they rather chose their children should be ruined by their own conduct, than saved by any foreign advice. If this arrogance only rendered the parents ridiculous, one should not need to be greatly concerned about it; especially as their high complacency in themselves would make them easy whatever others might think or say of them: But when we consider the unhappy consequences it may produce, with regard to the temper and conduct of the rising generation, it will appear a very serious evil, well worthy a particular mention, and a particular care to guard against it.
As for the assistance of ministers in this work of education I persuade myself, you will be so wise as thankfully to embrace it, both in public and private; and let me urge you to improve it to the utmost. Accustom your children to an early constancy and seriousness in attending divine ordinances, and be often yourselves enquiring, and give us leave sometimes to enquire, how they advance in acquaintance with religion, and in love to it. And more particularly let them attend on our catechetical lectures, which are peculiarly intended for their service.
I bless God, I have seen the happy effects of this exercise, both in the places where I was educated whilst a child*, and in those where I was formerly fixed; and as I am now introducing it amongst you, with an intent to continue it as long as I am capable of public service, I promise myself your most hearty concurrence in it. I will not at large insist on the advantages which may attend it. You easily see, that it will be an engagement to the children to learn those excellent summaries of divine truth, when their progress in them is so often examined: By repeating it themselves, and hearing it rehearsed by others, it will be more deeply fixed upon their memories: The exposition of it, in a plain and familiar manner may much improve their understandings in the doctrines and duties of religion: And I will add, you that are parents may, by attending on these occasions, possibly learn something as to the way of opening and explaining things, which you may successfully practice at home. In consequence of all we may hope, that, by the divine blessing some good impressions may be made on the minds of children. And when they find a minister willing to take pains to instruct them, when they hear him seriously and tenderly pleading with them, and pleading with God for them, it may much engage their affections to him, and so promote his usefulness amongst them, in other ordinances, and in future years. And give me leave to say upon this head, that as no wise and good minister will think it beneath him, to desire the affection of the children of his congregation; so it is the duty of parents to cherish in their offspring, sentiments of respect and love to all the faithful ministers of Christ, and especially towards those
Kingston, and St. Albans. On the mention of which, I cannot forbear returning my public thanks to my reverend and worthy friends Mr. Mayo and Mr. Clark, for the many excellent instructions they gave me, both in 'public and private, when under their ministerial care in the years of childhood. As I would always retain a grateful and affectionate remembrance of it, I cannot but pray, that the like care may be as much the practice, as it is the duty of their brethren of every denomination.
who statedly labour amongst them. Whatever mistakes you may discover in our conduct, or whatever deficiencies in our public ministrations, you should study to conceal them from the notice of your children; lest they should grow up in a contempt of those, whose services might otherwise be highly advantageous to them.
6. Lastly, Be earnest in prayer to God for his blessing on your attempts in the education of your children, if you desire to see them successful.
This I would leave with you as my last advice; and though I have had frequent occasion to hint at it before, I would now more particularly urge it on your attentive regard. God is the author of Every good and every perfect gift*; it is he, that has formed the mind and the tongue, and that Teaches man knowledge and address+. On him therefore must you fix your dependence, to teach you so to conceive of divine things, and so to express your conceptions of them, as may be most suited to the capacities, the dispositions, and the circumstances of your children; and to him you must look to Teach them to profit by allt, by his almighty grace to open their ear unto disciplineş, and to bow their heart unto understanding.
A heathen poet could teach the Romans, in a form of public and solemn devotion, to look up to heaven for influences from thence, to form their youth to the love and practice of virtue. Surely you, my friends, are under much greater obligations to do it, and that in a christian manner; earnestly intreating the God of grace, to send down on your rising offspring the effusions of that blessed Spirit, which was purchased by the blood of Christ, and is deposited in his compassionate hand. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious**, you are daily living on those supplies; let it be your constant errand at the throne of grace, to plead for your children there. Wrestle with God in secret, for the life of their souls, and for those regenerating influences on which it depends; and in those family devotions, which I hope you dare not neglect, let the little ones, from their earliest infancy, have a share in your remembrance. You may humbly hope, that he, by whose encouragement and command you pray, will not suffer these supplications to be like water spilt upon the ground: And, in the nature of things,
* Jam. i. 17. † Psal. xciv. 10.
Isai. xlviii. 17. § Job xxxvi. 10. || Prov. ii. 2. ¶ Dii bonos Mores docili Juventæ
it may tend to make serious impressions on the minds of your children, to hear their own case mentioned in prayer, and may dispose them with greater regard, to attend on what you say to them, when they find you so frequently, sa solemnly, and so tenderly pleading with God for them.
Doubt not that every faithful minister of Christ will most heartily concur with you, in so great and necessary a request. May God return to our united addresses an answer of peace! May he Pour out his Spirit on our seed, and his blessing on our offspring that they may grow up before him as willows by the water-courses*; that they may be to their parents for a comfort, to the church for a support, and to our 'God for a name and a praise ! Amen.
* Isai. xliv. 3, 4.